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Discussion Starter #1
When Tyler and Ozzie were growing up the only place I had to exercise them (because we lived in the city at the time) was at the dog park. So they grew up in that environment and I never had a problem up until about 8 months ago.

I would love to be able to take my dogs back to the park. However, they have become increasingly aggressive and unpredictable so I haven't been in several months.

How do I get my dogs readjusted to the park? I often have several dogs at a time over at my house and I don't have problems. I know how to read my dogs and when its time to take a break. Should I just accept that the DP is not for them anymore or is there something I can do?
 

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When Tyler and Ozzie were growing up the only place I had to exercise them (because we lived in the city at the time) was at the dog park. So they grew up in that environment and I never had a problem up until about 8 months ago.

I would love to be able to take my dogs back to the park. However, they have become increasingly aggressive and unpredictable so I haven't been in several months.

How do I get my dogs readjusted to the park? I often have several dogs at a time over at my house and I don't have problems. I know how to read my dogs and when its time to take a break. Should I just accept that the DP is not for them anymore or is there something I can do?
What is the layout of the Park in question? Can you start em out in an unfenced spread out area so they wont be slammed by strange dogs? What is their Recall like (can you reliabley get em back to you to head off an altercation)?
Do they enjoy other dogs or is it too stressful for them to encounter strange dogs? These are questions only you as the owner can answer!
 

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Scope out a time like 3:30pm on a Tuesday when it shouldn't be busy and keep them there as the population grows from the after-work crowd and see how they react. I would not initiate them when it's even remotely busy.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Tyler has been started on thyroid meds and the vet suggested waiting about a month before trying anymore behavior modification situations such as reintegrating into the dog park. I have a sneaking suspicion that his thyroid levels have contributed to his snarky behavior at the park...

Thanks for the tips... I am going to try it out once his thyroid levels stabilize and will definitely be going when there are few people there.

We use to go for multiple hours at a time... do you think if he does well after 20 minutes I should leave and call it success? I want to have him start associating the park with wonderful times again and don't want to push it...
 

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After around the 2 year mark, Soro became increasingly snarky with other dogs as well. He doesn't like it when dogs show ANY inclination to put their heads on/near his back. Dominance thing? Probably, but I'm still not 100% sure. Either way, dogs better just sniff and be on their way or he'll turn around and tell them off in a very dramatic way.
I've brought him to dog parks regularly between the time he was fully vaccinated, till he was around 1.5 years. I don't think dog parks are for everyone. Nowadays my dog will pick and choose who he wants to interact with and he's much happier going for a walk in the woods, roaming in the field etc.

For a long time I had the idea in my mind that I needed to help my dog 'like the dog park and other dogs again.' But then I realized it was more for me. Right now he's happy and healthy getting his exercise through other means, AND he still behaves well around other dogs :D

OH, but for the record, I'm not saying your dogs shouldn't be brought to dog parks anymore. It could very well be the thyroid thing for Tyler. In which I do think it's a good idea to slowly start reintroducing him to it, going when things aren't too crazy etc.
 

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With Charlotte she's good with dogs up until they show any kind of aggression or threat towards her, and unfortunately there's to many aggressive dogs at the dog park. We went for many years up until the day she was attacked by a lab and in defense ended up beating the snot out of the other dog. The situation that happened was in no way her fault, and for a while I was intent on returning. But the more I got thinking about it, the more I was seeing a really bad situation happening there. Charlotte isn't a scrapper, but she's not the kind of dog that puts up with bullshit from other dogs.

These days, I mainly take Charlotte for offleash runs out in fields or in forests, where we'll run into the occasional dog, but nothing ever happens, and in the event it should atleast I'd have a LOT more control over the situation there then at a dog park.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Canyx and RCloud have brought up good points for me. Like I mentioned, Tyler and Ozzie both spent an hour or more almost everyday at dog parks across the U.S. up until they were around 3. I definitely don't feel comfortable taking them both to the park anymore because they will defend each other and often times escalate a tense situation. I realize that my hope to return to the dog park is mostly for me. Tyler likes to wrestle and play but I haven't seen him interact with a dog at the park in a year. I think he would probably enjoy a nice hike or off leash adventure more but its not always as practical or convenient for me to do that. The park is 'easy'. I also like that he gets to interact with all the people and he really enjoys doing that. He is a social butterfly.

I brought both Tyler and Ozzie to daycare today. I had a few minutes to watch them enter the yard before I had to leave and I was amazed. No snarky behavior, no growling, nothing. They ran in with tails high and wagging. And then the most amazing thing happened: Tyler started playing really nice with another dog. He hadn't been in the yard more than a minute! I know this probably sounds stupid to a lot of people out there, but after everything I've been through with both of them this year, it was spectacular to see my dog playing with another, strange dog.

I don't understand why they act so different at daycare? The daycare yard is right around the same size as the dog park and there are definitely a lot more dogs there then there ever has been at the DP. I talked to the yard supervisor when I picked them up and asked how they did and she said there were no issues and that they did good. I don't have the funds to bring them there often, unfortunately.

So I KNOW Tyler can behave himself in a crowd of dogs, I just need to figure out why he is acting out when I'm there. I guess I also really need to evaluate if it would be beneficial for him to continue to go to the DP or not.
 

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With daycare, the dogs are screened somewhat. With a dogpark, dogs and owners are random, with some owners using the dog park to teach the dog socialization and manners, rather than working on it beforehand.

I recommend one dog at a time at the dog park initially, so that you can focus on distractions.

BTW, I have absolutely no problem when one dog "tells off" another because of a dominant chin on shoulders, or an amorous but unwanted humping. What I abject to is when victim pursues it as the telling off, or when the bully increases the aggression. Even tho Pits and Rotties are known for not backing down, they can be socialized to avoid fighting... so most other breeds can be socialized, also. In a dog park, you never know about the other dogs...
 

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Here's a thought. Why not get involved in some dog walking groups? I know some places have small groups of people who get together with their dogs and go on walks out on some trails for a half hour or so a couple times a week. I did one of these when I was down south in NC and with the right group of people and dogs, this can be a LOT of fun and are far less intimidating to your dogs.
 

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What I abject to is when victim pursues it as the telling off, or when the bully increases the aggression.
Sorry for digging up old threads but I was thinking about this one today.

Soro and I went on an early walk and interacted with 3 dogs during the walk. He was stiff during the greeting, but no hackles, tail slightly wagging. Introductions came and went without a hitch and we were on our way. And then we hit the dog run. There were only 6 or so dogs in there (WIIIDE open area) so I thought I would give it another try. The problem was all six dogs were congregated right at the entrance, but that's another story... We go in, Soro is being sniffed over by all the dogs there. And then, snark-attack mode. It sounded worse than it actually was (no contact). But I apologized and took Soro out immediately.

Was he being aggressive? Maybe. I define aggressive behavior as actual contact (teeth on skin or what have you), or when one dog blatantly goes for another unprovoked and without warning. Soro is not that dog. But the way he reacts, and he feels the need to snarl and follow through at the other dog (and then stopping when that dog has either run off or is completely cowed and submissive), I think it could very easily escalate into true aggressive behavior. I think this was the last time I try Soro in dog parks. He was very tense going in to begin with and I should have taken that as a warning sign. Plus he had a lot of time running in the field by himself.
 

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Oh no, he's TOTALLY fine with dogs running around him :D
He's completely not-reactive in the presence of dogs; I can call him away from them, get his attention, etc.. The thing he apparently can't handle is that initial greeting.. When you walk into the park and ALL the dogs want to come and meet yours.
 

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Sounds accurate.... but you might socialize him with respect to that if you have the time and desire.
1. Find a neutral area where you have some control over the dogs who are there.
2. Start out with one or two very friendly dogs to greet, then incrementally increase to his limit ... and back off by one or two next greeting.
3. Trade off a few dogs, who are friendly but more enthusiastic and rambunctious.
4. When he is used to that, after 5 - 10 meetings (with different dogs), add a few less socialized dogs.

Usually this is done at the puppy stage, and I don't know if it is worth the effort, because if your dog 'snarks' at one dog, another dog may get insulted and escalate....

I've had this happen with my dog, and had to wade in to separate.... not recommended ... I am not Cesar... if bitten I will bleed... And the Snarks may smell chump .....
 

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What about going to the park on-leash? That way you have much better control of your dog and they can slowly get adusted to dogs running around them.
Having your dog on leash around other dogs off-leash may just cause more trouble. If they feel they can't get away from an uncomfortable situation they are more likely to be reactive than if they feel they could just walk away. This isn't true for all dogs but it's generally reccomended to unleash your dog before they enter the park (assuming a double gate system). For dogs who just don't like the gate mobbing greating that can sometimes occur my park actually has a second gate at the other end and rarely has any dogs running to greet at that end, occasionally 1 or 2 might.
 

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Sounds accurate.... but you might socialize him with respect to that if you have the time and desire.
1. Find a neutral area where you have some control over the dogs who are there.
2. Start out with one or two very friendly dogs to greet, then incrementally increase to his limit ... and back off by one or two next greeting.
3. Trade off a few dogs, who are friendly but more enthusiastic and rambunctious.
4. When he is used to that, after 5 - 10 meetings (with different dogs), add a few less socialized dogs.

Usually this is done at the puppy stage, and I don't know if it is worth the effort, because if your dog 'snarks' at one dog, another dog may get insulted and escalate....

I've had this happen with my dog, and had to wade in to separate.... not recommended ... I am not Cesar... if bitten I will bleed... And the Snarks may smell chump .....
Thanks Hanksimon! I definitely did socialize my dog consistently from the day he was able to be taken out, till he was around 1.5. After that he just got increasingly wary about dogs approaching/interacting with him. But overall I think he's fine. He doesn't go after other dogs; and like yesterday when he interacted with dogs on the walk everyone was completely respectful (even though the other dogs were a bit overexhuberen :D).
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
Canyx, you described Tyler PERFECTLY. It sounds like Tyler and Soro are twins. Same issues, same response, same socialization on my part. He does fine with lots of other dogs running around. Its that initial greeting phase that causes the dramatic telling off. And he does exactly what Soro does too... he stops as soon as the other dog backs off or submits and there has never been any teeth/skin contact/puncture. Its when we run into that one other dog at the park that might also have greeting issues that we get into trouble. Tyler does completely fine with other dogs not at the dog park. We go to busy group classes twice a week and he interacts with the dogs there just fine as well.

Hanksimon, thanks! I think this is an excellent plan. However, I do not have access to that many dogs. The dogs that I do have access to have all been completely fine with Tyler. I have had up to 7 dogs in my backyard at a time and there has never been an issue. I am not sure how I would replicate a dog park experience with the resources I do have....

The whole 'huge dog pack at entrance gate' is a BIG problem. For me and for my dogs. If there is just one or two dogs milling at the gate, its fine. But its when a whole cluster are literally blocking the entrance that there tends to be trouble. I now wait and ask if owners can get their dogs away from the gate so we can come in. I know this is a problem for a lot of dogs, so I always watch to make sure that my dogs aren't near the gate. I like to let other dogs come in, say hi to everyone and then they can greet my Boys. This method has worked exceptionally well for us.

About the leash thing.... I really think its a bad idea in general. Also, at the 2 dog parks I do go to, its the rules that you must have your dog off leash. However, when Ozzie went through a phase I did take him on leash one time and it did seem to help. However, that is a great big exception to the rule. Most of the time when a dog comes in on leash, all the other dogs look at it as if its a toy on a rope and thats no good for anyone.

I haven't been back to the Park in several months now. I miss it and still have a vague hope of returning, but thats me being selfish. I know I have to do what is best for Tyler. We might try it one more time, say in the late evening or on a crappy weather day, just to see how it goes. If there is an issue, then no more dog park for us. :/
 

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Oh no, he's TOTALLY fine with dogs running around him :D
He's completely not-reactive in the presence of dogs; I can call him away from them, get his attention, etc.. The thing he apparently can't handle is that initial greeting.. When you walk into the park and ALL the dogs want to come and meet yours.
Kinda like walking in a biker bar
 

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Kinda like walking in a biker bar
What, a bunch of old guys at the entrance mobbing you and wanting to sniff your bum? :D

Canyx, you described Tyler PERFECTLY. It sounds like Tyler and Soro are twins. Same issues, same response, same socialization on my part. He does fine with lots of other dogs running around. Its that initial greeting phase that causes the dramatic telling off. And he does exactly what Soro does too... he stops as soon as the other dog backs off or submits and there has never been any teeth/skin contact/puncture. Its when we run into that one other dog at the park that might also have greeting issues that we get into trouble.
Maybe Tyler and Soro should have a get together. They would have a lot of fun warily circling each other :D
 
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